The Dreams We Have As Children Fade Away May 29th of 1967, 2 Sandycroft Street, Manchester Peggy Gallagher gave

birth to her second son at her two bedroom council home, as was the norm in those days, and was delighted that it was a boy, believing that he would be an excellent chum and playmate for her first born, Paul. She named him Noel Thomas, but little did she know that “Noel Gallagher”, the baby she lovingly held in her arms, would grow up to become the greatest songwriter, legend and artist in the world. Much has been written about Noel’s childhood, most of it suggesting that it was an unhappy, troubled and unsettled one. Although there is an element of truth in this, as with all childhoods, the reality is that Noel was happy, loved, provided for and in no way did he grow up in poverty. He grew up in a working class family, yes, with a difficult and uncaring father, with few opportunities given to him outside of his home, but his home-life was loving and comfortable, which helped him become the caring and loving man he is today. Both of Noel’s parents are Irish, his mother, Peggy from County Mayo and his father, Thomas, from County Meath. His Irish Catholic heritage was important to him while he was growing up and has remained so to this day. His parents met in Manchester’s Astoria club in 1964 and wed the following year, in Oxford Road’s Holy Name church. Peggy and Thomas did not enjoy a happy marriage at all, indeed Peggy realised her mistake immediately, but felt trapped due to her faith and upbringing. This will not be covered in detail, suffice to say that they had entirely different outlooks to, and priorities for life. Whilst Peggy lived and breathed for her family, always being the doting mother, Thomas was at the completely opposite end of the spectrum, seeing his family as a hinderence and burden to him being able to lead his flamboyant lifestyle. Despite holding down good jobs and owning his own business, he never provided for his family sufficiently, preferring to spend his money going out to the local pubs and clubs, and actually used them – all three Gallagher sons being dragged along to work for him unpaid, and his habit of taking what food Peggy was able to buy for her sons for himself. Despite this, Thomas was an influence on Noel’s life, with Noel following his choice of football and Gaelic football teams and Thomas’ love of traditional Irish music also had a profound and lasting effect on Noel, despite his protestations to the contrary. Those three aspects aside, however, Thomas was never of any support, comfort or encouragement to Noel, quite the opposite, in fact. One part of Noel’s personality is that he loves to push things to the limit, be a bit outrageous at times and provoke extreme reactions from people. This is exampled in recent times by his comments about Jay-Z’s appearance at Glastonbury 2008 and his regular criticisms of other stars, notably Robbie Williams and Phil Collins. This personality trait developed at a very early age, Noel learning just how best to irritate his father and provoke the most extreme reaction he could. Thomas used to instruct Noel to be home for 9:00 o’ clock when he went out with his mates and Noel would quite purposely ensure he was always 15-20 minutes late, taking huge satisfaction in his father’s unhappiness and annoyance with him. Despite smoking and drinking himself, Thomas insisted that his sons not follow his lead – Noel did both from an early age and it would have been near on an impossibility for his father not to have known what he was doing. Again, Noel took great delight in doing so. Peggy, on the other hand, could do no more for her sons, and seemed to hold Noel in a closer light to her other sons, regularly blaming the fact that she had a stronger bond with Noel than either Liam or Paul for Thomas’ more extreme reactions towards Noel. From going without food and clothes for herself, to working several lowly-paid jobs, Peggy ensured had what they wanted, were loved and cared for and that they had the greatest support possible from her .

Peggy’s jobs ranged from cleaning to factory worker to dinner lady at Noel’s school. This last job provided a quandary for Noel – he had already gotten into the routine of skipping classes all day, preferring to pass the time with the group of mates, hanging around the local park, sniffing glue, playing football, music, these all provided a far greater attraction than sitting listening to disinterested teachers dictating English history to a class of similarly disinterested children. For someone as quickthinking as Noel, the solution was simple and straight-forward. Register at school in the morning, enjoy the rest of the morning class free, return to school to have lunch, casually ensuring that Peggy noted his presence and then enjoy the rest of the day with his mates again! An excellent solution and he was rarely caught out. Peggy scrimped and saved to ensure her children all received gifts on birthdays and at Christmas time, whereas Thomas rarely bought any of his kids any present at all in their lives. When very young, Noel used to love playing with his action men, building Airfix model aeroplanes (which stmmed from his obsessive interest in World War II, this interest continuing into his adult years, Noel loving to watch hour upon hour of videos on this subject), football and Paul Gallagher reported that his favourite toy/game of all was his wig-wam, with the two brother enjoying hours of cowboys and Indians games! Noel was also very keen on reading books such as Tin-Tin, Asterix and Doctor Suess, all of which were graphically illustrated and strengthened Noel’s love of art. In his early to mid-teens Noel took art seriously, painting many works, all of which, unfortunately, appear to have been lost throughout the years. This passion was clearly evident with Oasis, though, as Noel worked very closely with Brian Cannon on early artwork and then took over responsibility for it alongside Simon Halfon once Brian Cannon stopped working with Oasis. Returning to Noel’s schooling, it is hardly surprising that he wrote the lyrics “Damn my education, I can’t find the words to say” for Don’t Go Away as in every one of the schools he attended – beginning with St Roberts Infant School, Longsight in 1971, through to St Bernards Primary, Burnage and ending at St Marks Secondary, Didsbury, not one single teacher in any of these offered Noel any support, education, encouragement or help in any area whatsoever. The English education system completely failed Noel, making it even more remarkable that he is so sharp, witty and intelligent. This just serves to illustrate his natural genius perfectly as not one of his personal strengths: musical ability, sense of humour, debating skills, public speaking or natural intelligence were nurtured to any extent. As Noel once remarked, “When you come from where we do, you become a footballer, a musician or a drug dealer.” This is unsurprising when the education authorities wished to churn through pupil after pupil, neither looking for nor nurturing any individual talent. Neither did the school authorities wish to help with or address any personal learning difficulties either. Having overcome a young childhood stutter successfully through speech therapy, Noel found a new problem – dyslexia. The teachers at his schools were not sympathetic to this at all, with no support offered yet again. Noel explained about this problem in 1996: “I didn’t know what it was at the time. When I wrote I’d give it to someone else to read, and they’d say ‘This doesn’t make any sense’. And I’d read it back to them and they’d say, ‘Half the words are missing’. But to me they were there.” The lack of interest with nurturing talent is illustrated clearly by Noel’s school guitar lessons, which began in his final year of primary. In 2002 Noel was voted in the Top 50 Guitarists Ever by fellow musicians, illustrating his natural talent. The qualified, trained music teacher at Noel’s school was unable to spot any of this natural ability at tall, refusing to let Noel play the guitar right-handed, which he felt comfortable with and forcing him to use his left hand, his writing hand. Eventually Noel gave

up on the classes, unable to put up with the lack of support or encouragement. When he re-started lessons at secondary school the exact same problems arose again, Noel insisting he strongly preferred to play right-handed, and his stubborn teacher refusing to “let” one of the world’s most talented guitarists to do so, forcing Noel, time after time to play left-handed. Frustrated with this total lack of interest or motivation Noel simply gave up on the lessons again, but continued his own self-tuition. What an opportunity missed by both of those teachers! They could easily have retired very comfortably on the back of being the person that taught Noel Gallagher how to play guitar, yet doubtless share their tales of wow with strangers in some Burnage bar for the price of a pint. When Jool Holland asked Noel about his music teaching at school, he replied sharply, staring straight into the camera and said, “All I have to say to them is, want to borrow a tenner?” In other words – Fuck You. As will be shown in later chapters, this is a common obstacle both Noel Gallagher and Oasis have had to overcome continually throughout their career – lack of support, encouragement or help, yet they have overcome each and every one, every single time. This has shaped Noel to become somewhat guarded and wary of hangers-on and free-loaders. He allows people to get relatively close to him, yet retains a definite distance, apart from the select few he completely trusts and lets in. Also, if you let Noel down once, then that is it, no second chances, you are out. It has been this dedication and singlemindedness that has brought him the fame, respect and success he enjoys today. This lack of help or support given to Noe in his early days has not been forgotten by him, yet he has used it positively by being extremely generous and supportive to up and coming bands he respects, giving them use of his recording studios, continually “bigging them up” to the media, appearing onstage with them and assisting in production/recording issues. These are just examples of the help Noel provides which is publicised, the reality is likely to be much more. Noel’s education ended rather fittingly. On his very last day, Noel sought revenge on a school bully, planning to cover him in a bag of flour. Unfortunately, or not depending upon your point of view Noel missed his target completely and the flour ended up covering his head-teacher! The inevitable result was him being expelled from school and not receiving his official leaving certificate – gutted... Noel looked back on leaving school in 1996, saying: “I left school with no qualifications whatsoever and I remember me mam sitting down one night and going ‘What is going to become of you?’ I didn’t have an answer. But the only thing I was good at, the only thing that would make me get off my arse was that plank of wood (his guitar).” In a separate interview he gave the same year, he spoke about his childhood friends, saying: “Out of my friends, some are dead, some are in prison for drug-dealing or robbing and a lot of them are ‘average Joes’.” As Noel grew up through childhood his interests developed and matured from action men and cowboys and Indians to taking football, music, girls and art a lot more seriously. Being very friendly and sociable, Noel always had a wide and varied circle of friends, with different groups for his different interests, such as cubs, scouts, football and “socialising” groups. He was always popular with girls, his coolness, deep, sensitive personality, wit and natural talent proving a definite hit and he was rarely without a girl by his side from a very young age. The first guitar Noel played was, ironically his fathers, a cheap acoustic. Thomas had left the family home in Ashbourne Avenue (the Gallaghers moved to this larger three bedroom house in 1971, as their

home in Sandycroft Street was being demolished) intending to buy an eternity ring for Peggy, a very rare act of affection by him. However, in typical style, on his way to the jewellers, he passed a shop and saw this guitar which he had “always wanted” and purchased that instead. Unable to master guitarplaying to any degree at all, it sat idle in the Gallagher home most nights, with Paul occasionally trying to play but as he did so to the same level as his father, not that frequently, Around the age of seven Noel spotted it and, fuelled by his love of music, began strumming away the same few chords over and over for hours until he had mastered them completely, a songwriting technique which he has kept to this day. The first guitar Noel actually owned was bought by Peggy from her John England catalogue and was, in Noel’s own words “a horrible, black acoustic rip-off”. Horrible it may well have been, but it was to provide Noel with hours of pleasure and enjoyment, not to mention marking the beginning of a path to his well-deserved fame and fortune. Thomas has claimed various times to still have both of these guitars but it would seem highly likely that this is not the case, given his expensive love of the high-life. Early musical tastes and influences are crucial to any young persons future leanings, particularly so when you are destined to become the greatest songwriter ever. Leo Sayer’s “The Show Must Go On” was the first record Noel ever owned, having had this given to him as a gift but this was certainly not representative of his early taste. Noel’s first musical love was punk rock, with The Sex Pistols “Never Mind The Bollocks” being the first album he ever bought. Never Mind The Bollocks was one of very few true innovative periods in modern music, sticking two fingers up at stadium rock, four hour drum solos and questioning everything about the way music was made and marketed. These were issues Noel naturally bonded with, having, for example been told that he “had to” play guitar left-handed here was a band saying “Question everything, do whatever you want and be whoever you want to be”. The Sex Pistols were to be of great inspiration to Noel, both in terms of music and attitude and their influence is clearly heard in many of his songs. Although completely uninterested at the time, they would later be an influence on Liam, as well, Johnny Rotten’s snarl being one of the obvious features of his singing style. The Sex Pistols were also hugely underrated and never given full credit for their songwriting or musical ability, something Noel has had to endure thoughout his career – “Quo-Rock”, “Three-Chord-Rock”, “BeatlesTribute-Band” being only three of the common put-downs. However, both bands happily played up to these images, knowing full well that the relatively one-dimensional music buying public love to be able to bracket artists and also that the media adore being able to report the same story, from the same angle, with the same image time again. The Sex Pistols only ever released one album, but this was still enough to secure their place in rock history, and Never Mind The Bollocks is treasured by Noel, who has consistently put in his “Best Of” lists since 1994 and has called it “the greatest album ever made” on several occasions. As a child, Noel used to love watching bands perform on television and watching Top Of The Pops was a highlight of his week. As he grew up on this he was a strong champion of it in later years and was genuinely upset when it was axed from the television schedule, speaking out publicly in an effort to force the schedulers to re-think their decision. Unfortunately, this was to fall on deaf ears, with the television executives believing that the show had had its day. Times do change, though, and perhaps the modern equivalent of watching your favourite bands, and discovering new ones on a television show would be looking at youtube clips and downloading tracks, something Noel claims to be unable to do, yet this is questionable, given his intelligence and love for music. As well as Top Of The Pops, Noel loved Factory TV’s “So It Goes” programme, where he watched bands such as The Sex Pistols, The Damned, The Jam and Joy Division.

Noel not only loved punk music, but the whole image and life-style associated with it, too. He was regularly seen around Burnage sporting black bondage trousers (with the obligatory tartan sides, of course), black leather jacket and Dr Martens boots. This image did little to harm his already soaring popularity with the local girls. On 4 December 1980, Noel went to his very first gig, The Damned at Manchester Apollo. Having only ever watched bands perform on television, Noel was totally blown away by the entire live performance experience. The atmosphere, excitement, bright lights and noise all left him feeling transfixed and hooked on the ardrenlian rush and longing for more. The Damned were, of course, a punk rock group and the style of dancing chosen by punks was the “pogo”, which consisted of jumping up and down maniacally, arms side by side, verring out of control and colliding with fellow pogoers. Rather than joining in with this, the 13 year-old Noel chose to watch and observe from the back. The gig was one of those life-changing moments for him and it was the first of literally thousands he would attend. Intriguingly, Noel claimed more than once in interviews that his first gig was Stiff Little Fingers, the Irish punk band. Perhaps he felt they had more “cool-ness” than The Damned, perhaps he became bored of answering the same questions and chose to play the game, but The Damned was certainly his first gig, as his then school mates would testify to, given the amount they heard about it from a rather enthusiastic Noel! If punk was his first musical love, The Sex Pistols his first favourite band and Steve Jones his first musical idol, his first real, serious passion in music was another Mancunian band, who were to be hugely influential to him and also to his early songwriting. Noel’s first real passion was The Smiths and his first real idol, Johhny Marr. He explained it in 1996: “First it was Steve Jones and his white Les Paul and his leather jacket. But I didn’t take it seriously until I saw Johnny Marr. He had the Brian Jones haircut and the shades and the white polo neck and the bid red semi-acoustic. When your Haircut 100s and your Echo & The Bunnymen and everyone were jingle-jangling up here (clasps imaginary fretboard at nipple level), Johnny was rocking out down here (stoops to mid-thigh). When The Smiths came on Top Of The Pops for the first time, that was it for me. From that day on I was…. I wouldn’t say… Yes, I probably would say, I wanted to be Johnny Marr.” The Smiths emerged in the 1980s and built up a cult following, particularly in their home-town. They were a band who were loathed by some as equally as they were loved by others, but there is little doubt as to which camp Noel fell into. Aside from sex, there are few greater orgasmic feelings than discovering a band that you “get” totally, who are able to convey what you are feeling and expressing that through their words and music, whose music touches you so deeply that it becomes a personal relationship between you and them. This is precisely how Noel felt about The Smiths, adoring everything about them and, in particular, Johnny Marr. They were often described as the best and most important band of their era and were very influential for the UK bands that emerged the following decade. Their self-titled debut album was released in 1984 but they peaked in 1986, with the release of The Queen Is Dead, which peaked at number 2 in the UK charts and was described by Noel as “one of the records that inspired me to form a band”. Always controversial and never seeking to shy away from it, The Smiths wrote political songs, a song about the Moors Murders and other controversial subjects, all of which caused uproar at the time but the two key front-men, Morrissey and Johnny Marr, stood firm and tall, arguing their points strongly and refusing to back down. A teenage Noel was impressed by this public attitude of defiance and self-belief and it

would be stored away for use in the future. It was perhaps this defiant attitude and unwillingness to water down their beliefs to achieve fame that resulted in The Smiths not breaking the United States – and it would not be the last time, either that a band from UK’s pride in their quality and ability would have this outcome (fast forward to 1995…) Noel discovered The Smiths early in their career and recalls this as: “I always used to bash about on this guitar, playing stuff like Hey Jude. Then in ;83 I saw The Smiths and I said ‘That’s it! That’s the way I want to play guitar.’ Then after that I saw John Squire from The Stone Roses cross the two with Paul Weller and John Lennon and that’s how I wanted to sound.” Noel was so taken with and inspired by Johnny Marr that the very day after he saw Johnny on television playing the red semi-acoustic guitar, he went out and bought an exact copy, just to be like him. This was the kind of impact The Smiths and Johnny Marr had on him. The fact that Johnny Marr was an Irish Mancunian who supported Manchester City further strengthened the bond for Noel, believing him to have so much in common and began to hero-worship him, and his guitar playing, Looking back on this, Noel spoke in 2006: “There’s nothing he cant do with a guitar, the mans a fucking wizard. You cannot be influenced by Johnny Marr because you cant play what he plays, even he’s not as good as he is!” Despite John Lennon and The Beatles being portrayed as Noel’s main love and influence, Johnny Marr was way up there, as well. Whereas Noel has stated several times that he was only ever into Lennon’s music, and didn’t particularly respect him as a person, he did respect Johnny Marr in this way, seeing similar, positive personality traits to himself in him: “He’s a euphoric, up kind of guy, which probably counter-acted Morrissey’s downliness.” If you ask Noel to name his favourite Smiths song he will deliberate for a long time, thinking over many different options but the two he generally comes back to are, What Difference Does It Make? and what he describes as “the most romantic song ever written”, Hand In Glove. Rather strangely, Noel has shied away from covering The Smiths songs, only playing Stop me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before with Chris Martin in October 2002 at London’s Astoria and then There Is A Light That Never Goes Out on the second leg of his 2007 semi-acoustic tour with Gem, the latter being particularly impressive. As with all of the songs that Noel covers, he made it his own, changing the style and tempo and improved upon the original, to such an extent that The Sun newspaper ignorantly reported it as being a premierre of a brand new Oasis track! However, those two songs aside, Noel has never performed any other Smiths songs live, he does, however “do a rather good Hand In Glove”, according to the great man himself! Johnny Marr only made up one part of The Smiths, Morrissey being the other front-man. A troubled genius, Morrissey’s lyric-writing touched Noel deeply and he described him as “the most literate man ever to write music, his lyrics are incredible”. When he first got into The Smiths he had never seen them, with the record covers not containing pictures he had to use his imagination (“for all I knew, he could have looked exactly like me”) but when he did he was not disappointed with their image. Although he was clearly more taken with Johnny Marr than Morrissey, he still respected him, saying: “The hearing aid and the flowers on Top Of The Pops and all that, that’s genius. That’s what pop music is all about, for a guy to look ridiculous and effortlessly cool at the same time.”

Morrisey’s lyrics fascinated and inspired Noel: “One of the greatest lyrics Morrissey ever wrote was ‘You should not go to them, Let them come to you’ (The Hand That Rocks The Cradle), I always knew that it was going to be. And lo and behold, the chancer that I am, it fucking happened.” He also managed to combine another of his interests with The Smiths – girls! “The Smiths at the Free Trade Hall in about 1984 (it was actually 13 March 1984) that was a top gig. I was a big fan and I had the records, but I didn’t know much about them really. When we got there, the whole place was covered in flowers, and I thought, Fucking hell, that’s pretty weird. Plus it was the first gig Id been to where there were loads of girls and straight away I thought, I like this band. I said to all my mates, you’ve got to see this band, The Smiths – even if you think they’re shit, there’s loads of fanny.” The band split up in Autumn 1987 on extremely bad terms, with Marr/Morrissey’s relationship having deteriorated beyond repair. This hit Noel badly, his first real musical love was over, but he sought solace in the other bands he had gotten into – The Beatles, U2 etc and also in his own songwriting, which he had begun to take seriously. There is little or no chance of The Smiths ever playing live or recording together ever again, yet Noel does not give up hope, stating in 2006: “If The Smiths announced a gig anywhere in the world tomorrow, I’d be there and the same goes for The Stone Roses.” The Stone Roses had a similar background to The Smiths and Noel discovered them around the same time. Another Mancunian band, The Roses and The Smiths were effectively acting as support for the city’s main attraction waiting to happen in 1994. They, too, were to be a vital inspiration to Noel, and also Oasis, Their impact on Liam is frequently written about, Ian Brown shaping a lot of his stage presence and Noel recognised this: “Without them, there would not have been an Oasis, because I don’t think Liam would have bothered joining Bonehead’s group, and subsequently I wouldn’t have bothered joining Liam’s group.” Slightly less so than Johnny Marr, guitarist John Squire inspired Noel in his guitar playing and development and he was delighted and proud when he became the first non-Oasis ember to play onstage with them when he joined them for Champagne Supernova at the Knebworth celebration. “That’s another moment in my life. He’s never played with anyone else bar The Stone Roses and we’ve never played with anyone else bar us lot. So that was a first.” Early Oasis, from the beginning to 1993 were very Stone Roses-influenced, which can be heard in the various early demos available. Had they continued down this route, it is unlikely they would have enjoyed the same level of success, as one of the fundamental attractions of Oasis is their own, unique sound, drawing from a range of diverse inspirations, adding Noel’s genius and producing “Oasis Music”. Nonetheless, the band’s love of The Stone Roses holds an important place in Oasis’ forming and history. The Stone Roses were very unpredictable live, as Noel put it, “they were either the

greatest live band ever, or on other nights they were absolutely shit.” This was yet another mental note made by Noel – No matter where you play, how many people are there, you put in 100% every time and give a good performance. At this stage and even though Noel’s musical preferences were still punk bands, he also enjoyed bands such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and U2. The common portrayal of Noel’s musical tastes as a youth is that he listened to The Beatles before he was out of nappies and almost stretches as far as to claim that his first words were “Lennon”! Although The Beatles were a major part of his play-list, their dominance is somewhat overstated and did not become a regular feature for Noel until he and his musical tastes had matured more, then he began taking them seriously, along with other bands like U2, who were also of great influence and inspiration to him. That said, one of the very first songs Noel learned to play was Ticket To Ride, still his personal Beatles favourite. He learned it by practising over and over until he was satisfied with his rendition. He has spoken about his love for this song many times throughout the years but, despite covering other Beatles songs, has never played this live, except in soundchecks. This is because he is afraid that he will not do the song justice and also because, when he covers a song, he seeks to make it his own, which he has always succeeded in doing. Noel holds Ticket To Ride in such high esteem, as “the perfect song” that he does not feel he can add anything to it. He confirmed in April 2000 that a recording of playing it did, in fact exist, but that it was recorded in his house and it seems likely that it shall remain there, unfortunately. The fundamental difference between Noel discovering The Beatles and that of other bands is that it was him who found his other loves, such as The Smiths, The Stone Roses, etc, whereas The Beatles were such a part of everyday life that they were always there, their songs always heard, so there was not one defining moment or time when it could be claimed that Noel suddenly adored and appreciated them. Rather it was a gradual process, with the songs always being there but taking greater and greater importance on each listen. The more songs he heard, the more he loved them and the more influenced by them be became. Not influenced to the extent of “borrowing” parts of their music, however! This is a myth seized upon by the media and used again and again. Noel happily played along, knowing full well that his music was his own, drawn from his own feelings and expressions and also from the inspiration of many different artists apart from The Beatles. Throughout his childhood and youth Noel was always open to any type of music and has continued to take this stance. He has never pre-judged any genre or type of artist and listens to many diverse acts, thus making his own music so full and complete. In The Beatles, as with The Smiths, he found a band whose music he could totally connect with and relate to. “Its beyond an obsession. Its an ideal for living. I don’t even know how to justify it to myself. With every song that I write, I compare it to The Beatles. I’ve got semi-close once or twice. Live Forever, I suppose, Don’t Look Back In Anger, Whatever. The thing is, they only got there before me, if I’d been born at the same time as John Lennon, I’d have been up there.” From a very young age until he was 15 Noel spent 6 weeks every summer and weeks every Christmas in County Mayo, Ireland, where Peggy was born and his grandmother, aunts, uncles and numerous cousins lived. These were great times for Noel and he loved every minute of it: fishing, enjoying the countryside, playing with his Irish cousins (because he was from the big city he was viewed with an

element of awe) and loving the contrast of peace, quiet and green fields to Manchester’s constant noise and rabble. He remembers it as: “The town in Mayo (Charlestown) had a church, a post office and about 300 pubs. It was all farmland and I was a bit freaked out by all the sheep and the cows because I was from Manchester. We’d never seen the likes of nettles and fields and stacks of hay and all that. But I was great – all three of us used to go fishing all the time. Our cousins there never dared laugh at our English accents because they knew they would have got a clip around the ear if they did. It was a great childhood and its something I talk a lot about to Johnny Marr, who had a similar upbringing. “Me mam was determined to give us some Irish culture, because we were used to concrete flats and stuff. It was a bit of a culture shock for the first four or five years but we just used to love it. I still do to this day and the great thing about coming to Ireland is at the airport when you know that smell in the air is turf burning. It almost brings a tear to me eye.” At night-time all of the family used to gather together, laughing, joking, drinking and listening to or playing music. This was another time Noel loved, savouring every moment of having an enjoyable family get-together. The traditional Irish music also had an influence on him, with it having huge focus on the melody and sing-a-long chorus this was another note to be made mentally. Noel’s favourite Irish song was The Wolfe Tones Dirty Old Town and he used to love singing this. As well as traditional football, Noel followed in his fathers footsteps with his love of Gaelic football. This is a tough sport, a mixture of football and rugby, where skill is vitally important but being able to look after yourself is equally so. Noel was a very talented player and his dad forced him to join the team he ran, St Bernards. His career there was as short as he could get away with it being and left his father’s team to join another local Manchester club, called Oisins. There he continued to play up to Under-18 level and one childhood claim to fame is that he scored a point at Dublin’s famous Croke Park stadium during a school tournament! Noel was rightly very proud of this achievement! While Manchester City are obviously Noel’s football club, his Gaelic football equivalent is Meath County Gaelic Football Team. This is the county his father originates from, so, as with most sons, he had little choice in the matter! Thomas used to play Irish music very loudly in the family home and also used to drag Noel along to Irish clubs, giving him a coca-cola and a chair in the corner while he spent the evening with his mates. Noel detested both of these and would protest very vocally to his father about them. In order to infuriate him further, Noel would criticise the phoniness of all of the people pretending to be Irish, which some have reported as his apparent rejection of his Irishness. Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, he wanted to get back at his father but it also genuinely annoyed him that these people believed being Irish meant drinking Guinness and singing along to a few songs. For Noel it goes a lot deeper than that, and he has consistently stated that he is Irish, rather than English. In 2001, when asked if he would be writing the song for England’s World Cup team he replied very clearly: “Absolutely not. If we do anything, it’ll be for the Republic of Ireland. If England played the Republic of Ireland I’d support Ireland, If anyone’s listening to this from the Irish FA, half a million grand and we’ll do it for you!” Categorically – I am Irish.

Gigs in Ireland have always been of special importance to Noel, always seeking to give that extra special something when playing to an Irish crowd. In return, the Irish welcome them home when they play, it is a celebration of their return to their country and treated as such. Any Oasis gig in Ireland is attended by around 400,000 “cousin Gallaghers”, some of whom Noel knows and some who are so distantly related he has absolutely no connection with whatsoever! Indeed, one of his cousins was working on a movie and asked Noel to write the soundtrack, but he was unable to do so, due to other commitments, unfortunately. In early 2000 Noel seriously considered moving home from England to Ireland. He joked at the time that he decided against the move because he could not picture Meg milking cows in her £5,000 Prada dress! It is likely Meg put a stop to any such move, having no desire to move away from England. The following year he spoke about it again, saying: “If I was moving to Ireland, I’d go all the ay and get myself a place in Charlestown. The one thing that’d put me off is the health service, it’s an absolute disgrace. Everything else about the country, though, I love.” If you are an Irish Catholic in Manchester, you support Manchester United. Unless, that is, if your name is Thomas Gallagher and you are looking to be different to the thousands of others. Then you choose their far less successful neighbours, Manchester City. As a result of this, you subject your children to supporting the same club, and having to endure years of heartache. Noel had little choice but to support Manchester City and attended his first match in 1971. He recalls it as: “I used to go to football matches with ‘im (his father). I went to my first football match in 1971, Manchester City versus Newcastle United. Man City won 5-1. We were standing in the Kippax Road Stand, and at the end of it was a ledge where all the dads used to put all the kids. I used to sit on that ledge with all the little boys and that.” Football was a massive passion for Noel during his childhood, at one point more so than music, and he is still an avid fan now. He was mesmorised by the excitement and atmosphere, in those days there were no seats, just old-fashioned terracing, which went to creating a superb escape for the men and boys who went along. Two hours were spent shouting for your team passionately, singing the songs, winding up the opposition and being part of something bigger – you were not just a fan, you were part of the fans, you belonged and for those two hours the people next to you were your best mates, as you bonded with them and shared the ecstacy and agony in equal measure. The anthemic songs sung by the fans had a huge effect on Noel, and on his songwriting, as well. Songs such as Don’t Look Back In Anger, Cigarettes and Alcohol, Lyla and so on are only a few of the many songs inspired by this love of the anthem, the sing-a-long, backed up by the fact that you could go down to any “man’s bar” on any Friday or Saturday night and be guaranteed to “enjoy” a rendition of one of Noel’s songs. Noel was 4 when he attended his first match and Thomas used to take him and Paul (Liam did not show so much interest) to the matches for the last half hour, when the gates were opened for free entry. As he grew up, he and Paul started going together and became part of a gang. Manchester City were relegated in 1987 and Noel and Paul decided to travel away to follow them at the various small stadiums, in order to show support for the club. The Saturday ritual was meeting up with the rest of the gang in Burnage’s Mauldeth pub, drinking, travelling to the city or town the game was in and then making acquaintance with the lucky locals! “Making acquaintance” basically meant causing trouble, be that skirmishes with groups of the opposing team, petty theft from the local, completely unprepared shops, or drinking in the local bars.

Although not a football hooligan as such, Noel was more than happy and willing to defend the honour of his club and city (City are viewed as THE Manchester club, United being more national) and ended up in numerous fights on his travels with City. On one occasion, in Sheffield, he ended up in hospital, together with Paul, but both discharged themselves against the wishes of the doctor to enable them to see the match and enjoy their day out. The gang that Noel was a member of was called “Young Gunners” and they then changed their name to “Cool Cats”. They were young Mancunians, out for the day and quite prepared to deal with any situations with came their way, yet not actively seeking out any trouble. Noel was a member of this gang for several years, but decided that his songwriting was far more important: “It was a good laugh, but then I started getting more into music and that was the end of it.” Although he stopped travelling around England to watch City, he maintained his interest and passion and his name is associated with the club around the world. Indeed, attend an Oasis gig in any country and you are guaranteed to see fans proudly wearing the Sky Blue top. Manchester City sought to take advantage of this fact, knowing fine well that the logo “Oasis” on their shirts would ensure huge worldwide sales and tried to persuade Noel to sponsor them. He refused, preferring to keep some distance from the official sponsorship. He did however, launch the brand new £6 million training ground in 1996, he, Liam and Guigsy modelled the new shirts and one of the executive dining areas is named The Oasis Suite. In 1995 Noel was asked to write the official club song and thought about it long and hard, but decided against doing so, saying: “I’m not going to sweat blood over a song unless it’s for myself. Anyway, what can I get to rhyme with City?!” Indeed, Noel. He had started writing the song, though, it was called “Being A Blue” and the melody was simply stored away for that famous train journey, when he was stuck on the Severn Bridge, and he used the time to re-write “Being A Blue” – it became Acquiesce. The Kippax made him extremely proud, by adopting Wonderwall as one of their own songs, ranking alongside Blue Moon as one of their favourites. This was a moment to savour for Noel, the very crowd that he had grown up alongside, singing along with, were now singing his song and the very first time he heard it he found it hard to keep the tears away. Simon Moorhead was the fan who wrote: And all the runs that Kinky makes are winding And all the goals that City score are blinding And there are many things that I would like to say to you But I don’t know how ‘Cos Eike you gonna be the one that saves me And after all, you’re my Alan Ball Manchester United fans retaliated with their own, not quite so gushing “With Alan Ball, you’ll win fuck all” version, stirring the Oasis v Man U rivalry even further. The “lads culture” became cool in the 1990s and Noel’s love of and passion for football helped him to become the figure of this era, Oasis personifying everything that any young man wished to be at that time.

Going back to leaving school, Noel did so with no qualifications, no leaving certificate and no help from the authorities to find a career. He was forced into working for his father in his business, as Thomas paid better wages than the other ones available to Noel, he could do this job standing on his head and so Noel went to work with him, unhappily. He did enjoy this period of employment at all and was delighted when it ended, with Thomas hurt his back badly and having to spend two months in hospital. Following this Noel’s jobs included working as a signwriter for an estate agency (which he enjoyed as it allowed him to use his creativity, to an extent, at least), working in a bed factory (not Noel’s favourite job at all), in a bakers and then his brother Paul got him his famous job at Kennedys Civil Engineering, British Gas, Manchester City Centre Depot, Little Peter Street, working in the fresh air, digging holes! One day someone dropped a piece of a gas mains pipe on Noel’s foot, injuring him badly and ending his dig-holing career! As a result of this injury, Noel was given a job in the store room, which he described as: “I used to hand out nuts and bolts to people who came in and asked for nuts and bolts!” Not the most challenging role in the industrial world, then, but one which gave Noel the time and quiet he needed to work on his songs. In life you tend to be guided down your destined path and this certainly was a God-send for the young songwriter. This important period in Noel’s life is covered in detail in a later chapter. The periods of unemployment between jobs were dark and unhappy times for Noel: “My unhappiest memories were of unemployment and desolation, growing up on the dole on £17 a week. My Mam used to take half of it and I’m glad she done it now. I came from fuck all and if I go back to nothing I’ll have had a good trip.” These depressing times were never forgotten by Noel. Unlike many rock stars, footballers or other young people suddenly thrust into the life of fame and fortune from virtual poverty, he always remembered how he struggled, how he felt when he had no money and dedicated his songs in 1995 to “the guy in the street who has no job, no money, whose highlight of the day is walking to the shops to buy a packet of fags. If he hears one of my songs on the radio and it takes him to another, happier world for four minutes, then that’s enough for me.” Noel also helped those less fortunate than himself through his generous charity work, which was largely unreported by the media. “Noel Spends Two Nights Raising Thousands Of Pounds For The Homeless” not being quite as attractive to them as “Noel’s Narcotic Frenzy”. He has never forgotten how he struggled and has done lots of charity work throughout the years. When he was working and had some spare money, Noel began going out to clubs, such as The Hacienda. By this stage, guitar based music was no longer “in”, dance music having replaced it as the choice of the young. On Noel’s first visit to The Hacienda he was confused, not understanding the attraction of the drum beats and so on. He stood back and watched, questioning how the people present could possibly be enjoying themselves so much. He was soon to find out. On his next visit he was offered an E and, not averse to experimenting, took it. Suddenly the appeal of dance music was clear and obvious, the E kicking in took him to places of pure enjoyment and, naturally enough, ecstacy.

This was a pattern Noel was to follow for several years: clubbing, getting high and enjoying the dance music. He even went to the extreme of putting his guitar aside for a while, immersing himself in his new-found love of dance. This may appear on first hear to have been a negative time for his songwriting, and a temporary halt to the future Oasis sound but no, it was an important period for both to develop, With Noel getting into another style of music, he was able to add this to his repertoire, as well, and if he had not gone through this experiementation songs such as Columbia, Fucking In The Bushes, Go Let It Out and the more recent Falling Down may not have emerged at all. The Manchester clubbing scene was where Noel first met Louise Jones, the first giel he ever lived with. Louise was a regular clubber and became a familiar face, then someone to chat to, and then someone more close and serious. Louise’s story is told in far more detail later in the book, but she and Noel set up home together in a flat in India House relatively quickly and Louise is a very important figure in Noel’s story. 1998. Noel is working at Kennedys, living with Louise, working hard at his songwriting, but is still blissfully unaware of what is just around the corner. Noel Gallagher’s childhood and youth is well summarised by two quotes from him. “Having a shit childhood and stuff, it can’t help but shape your outlook on life, but it should never shape your actions towards other people. I would say that having all that happen is why I’m strong, why I’ll always be one of those people for whom the glass is always half full opposed to half empty.” When asked for his happiest childhood memories, Noel replied: “Strumming away on the same three chords – a bit like now. Listening to The Smiths, Morrissey and Marr were like Gods to me, seeing The Stone Roses play, going to raves. “My gran’s got this house and the back garden is just fuckin huge. The nearest neighbours are four miles away. She didn’t have running water, so we wen to the well to get water. It was back to basics. Those are my fondest memories.”

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